As mentioned in my last posts, conducting a needs assessment and/or producing quantitative and/or qualitative data about the communities you serve is key in having a successfully funded proposal. Once you have an idea of the project that connects to your patrons, your research for RFPs or Request for Proposals begins.
Here are some RFP research items to keep in mind:
Open your opportunities for funding. Our first choice may be to look at “technology grants” only, but thinking of other avenues to broaden your search may be helpful. As MacKellar mentions in her book Writing Successful Technology Grant Proposals, “Rule #15: Use grant resources that focus on the goal or purpose of your project or on your target population. Do not limit your research to resources that include only grants for technology” (p.71).
Build a comprehensive list of keywords that describes your project in order to conduct strong searches.
Keep in mind throughout the whole process: grants are for people not about owning the latest devices or tools. Also, what may work for one library may not work for another; each library has its own unique vibe. This is another reason why a needs assessment is essential.
Know how you will evaluate your project during and after project completion.
Sharpen your project management skills by working on a multi-step project such as grants. It takes proper planning, and key players to get the project moving and afloat. It is helpful to slice the project into pieces, foster patience, and develop comfort in working on multi-year projects.
It is helpful to have leadership that supports and aids in all phases of the grant project. Try to find support from administration or from community/department partnerships. Find a mentor or someone seasoned in writing and overseeing grants in or outside of your organization.
Read the RFP carefully and contact funder with well-thought out questions if needed. It is important to have your questions and comments written down to lessen multiple emails or calls. Asking the right questions informs you if the proposal is right for a particular RFP.
Build a strong team that are invested in the project and communities served. It is wonderful to share aspects of the project in order to avoid burnout.
Find sources for funding:
- The Library Grants Blog
- Best Buy Foundation Community Grants
- Institute of Museum and Library Services:
- American Library Association (ALA) Awards and Grants
- Public Library Association (PLA) Awards and Grants
- American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Awards and Grants
- U.S. Department of Education Grants
- U.S. Department of Education State Contacts
- The Grantsmanship Center: Funding State by State
- National Library of Medicine (NLM)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services